Taped above Tory Worley desk’s at Hope for the Inner City are photos of teenagers leading Bible studies. Tory is the Community Development Director at Hope and doubles as the director for Urban Ministry Teams. The photos weren’t taken in Chattanooga. These pictures were taken in the teens’ hometowns and sent to Tory to show him how they were practicing what they had learned at Hope. Urban Ministry Teams (UMT) are not your regular service trip.

Here are some things you need to know about UMT’s:

What is an urban ministry team? Hope for the Inner City’s Urban Ministry Team initiative is a community revitalization program offered to students fourteen and up. The program sends teams of teenagers and youth leaders into Chattanooga’s inner city on a seven-day journey in leadership development with an emphasis on mercy ministry. The initiative is on its tenth year running

What do they do?

Urban ministry teams have three major goals:

  1. Leadership development. Adult leaders are encouraged by Tory to step back and to let students take the lead. The program was structured so students fill leadership roles and use their unique giftings to flourish when given responsibility. Students are expected to lead work projects, neighborhood Bible studies, and even their fellow students.
  2. Spiritual development. During the week, students will lead and be led through daily devotionals. The students then follow devotionals with seminars and workshops to discuss and process scripture with leaders. At the same time, students will go into neighborhoods to lead Bible Clubs with kids who have different backgrounds and beliefs. Student participants also attend worship at New City Fellowship.
  3. Community development. Cross-cultural experiences challenge students with issues of race and diversity, broadening their horizons and re-shaping their perceptions. Spending time in other people’s homes in Hope’s community allows students to expand beyond their own experiences by encountering people who lack material and financial resources. Students learn to look beyond people’s needs to see their God-given dignity and strength.

How is the program structured?

Teams arrive Saturday, worship at New City Fellowship on Sunday, then spend the rest of the day preparing and training for the week ahead. Tory and other Hope staff members debrief the students on work projects and neighborhood Bible clubs before assigning roles based on the students’ individuals gifts and leanings. Before going into neighborhoods, students take charge by preparing lessons and activities, then they lead the way.

What makes Hope’s program different?

Don’t take it from us, take it from Dave Hinkley. Dave is a youth ministry director from Lansing, Michigan who has recently done something he’s never done before: take his youth group to serve with the same organization three years in a row. Dave heard about Hope’s UMTs through one of his kids who begged him to let them go. They did, and for the next two years, Dave never had to drum up support because his students all encouraged one another to go.

“Hope for the Inner City’s UMT program is leadership development disguised as a regular service trip. What a crazy thing, to be somebody who has been in ministry for a long time to go and have to sit on your hands—how awesome. What I see from my kids at home afterward, it makes me want to do it again,” Dave said about his experience of taking kids to serve at Hope.

Come and see.

Serving on an urban ministry team will expose you to community development, justice issues, racial reconciliation, and sweat evangelism. You will experience a holistic approach to service that commits to meet both the physical and eternal needs of people in East Chattanooga.

Email Tory Worley at tworley@hope4theinnercity.org to book a spot for your youth to be a part of an Urban Ministry Team for summer 2019.

Can’t wait to get involved?

Luckily, you don’t have to wait until next summer to head over to Hope for the Inner City. Come and join us for our fall event, Growing Hope: One seedbed at a time—we’re throwing a garden party with an educational twist. Bobby Wilson, the director of Metro Atlanta Urban Farms, will be with us to share a little of his story and their work. Bobby’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion made up of Joel Tippens, our farmer and food advocate, Sara McIntyre, Executive Director of Crabtree Farms, and Father Peter Kanyi, founder of Neema Resettlement Ministries, as well as Bobby Wilson.

The event will offer various opportunities for you to support our work, including the donation for your meal (simple soup and bread) sponsored by Niedlov’s Breadworks and clay bowls sponsored by Forman Pottery. The handcrafted bowls will be on a first come, first serve basis, though you will be able to purchase them after the event.

Join us at 1800 Roanoke Avenue at the Grow Hope Urban Farm on October 13 from 4 to 6 p.m., and be sure to RSVP via Facebook. Childcare will be provided.

PO BOX 11584


A 501(c)(3) Organization